NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) — A southern Indiana chemical plant released an orangish cloud of nitrogen oxide Tuesday, prompting officials to close nearby roads and issue shelter-in-place orders until the cloud dissipated.
Authorities responded about 10:15 a.m. to reports about an “orange plume” in the air near the Blue Grass Chemical Specialties plant in New Albany, said Floyd County Emergency Management Agency spokesman Kent Barrow.
County officials worked with Indiana State Police and the New Albany Police Department to close part of Interstate-265, while shelter-in-place orders were issued for an elementary school and several businesses as a precaution, Barrow said.
Mayor Jeff Gahan said at 12:30 p.m. the plume had dissipated, affected roads had reopened and the shelter-in-place orders were lifted in the Ohio River city, located just north of Louisville, Kentucky.
Gahan said in a post on the city's Facebook page that the plant's chemical engineer had determined "that the smoke was a form of Nitrogen Oxide that is not harmful at these quantities.”
Blue Grass Chemical Specialties CEO Paul McCauley said the release occurred after a reactor acted at a faster than normal rate and was unable to send nitrogen oxides through scrubber filters.
No one in the plant was hospitalized, he said.
McCauley said plant workers are investigating how much of the chemical was released. He said the company has a permit with the Indiana Department of Environmental Management to filter the nitrogen oxides before being released.
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